Almost 20 years ago is when last any team from Liverpool Football Club graced the shores of South Africa and when the news broke of the LFC Legends coming to South Africa, every South African Red Supporter was licking their lips. The names in the LFC Legends touring squad speak for themselves, Fowler (affectionately known as God), Smicer, Berger, Jones, Grobbelaar, Wright, Barnes, Molby, Thomas, Evans, Hamann, Kennedy, Mcateer, McManaman, Aldridge, Thompson, Callahan & Fairclough.
The thought of seeing these professionals of whom many of us grew up watching on television in person, gave us goose bumps and set every emotion racing within the true Red supporter. Even my kids, although they did not see them play in their prime, were ecstatic and filled with pride and joy to see true legends of our beloved Liverpool Football Club.
As a supporters club we got hold of @5timesco (Peter McDowall) who organised the LFC Legends Tour and made arrangements to meet them in person and for them to sign autographs and take photos with the supporters, which they duly obliged. The LFC Legends are truly amazing as they spent their time with their supporters signing memorabilia and taking photos with the people who have supported them since the beginning of time (photos below)
This was a dream come true for every South African Red, and ranked as the best moment of their lives short of gracing the hallowed turf of Anfield. For many Reds, this would be the closest they would ever get to a Liverpool player and they all cherished the moment. Speaking to Vladimir Smicer about the night in Istanbul was a highlight and as he stated “What we achieved in Istanbul, it will never be repeated! We knew if we could get one back, we would go on to win it.” And we all know what happened when we got the one – HISTORY was made on that special night.
Enough reminiscing, match day dawned at Moses Mabida Stadium in Durban and we all would get to watch our beloved Liverpool Football Club in action, albeit the Legends. And the fans, young and old, came out in droves to support the team, all 30300 of them kitted out in the gear to support their favourite team.
Prior to kick-off, “You’ll never walk alone” belted out from the loud speakers in the stadium and it won’t be an exaggeration if I say that “every Liverpool Supporter could feel the goosebumps” as the lyrics played and the crowd sang along in harmony. The “KOP” was created behind the goal post and was intimidating as at Anfield although not as vociferous.
The game was played in a friendly spirit, Patrick Berger scoring 4 goals as the LFC Legends and Kaizer Chiefs Legends played to a thrilling 5 – 5 draw in an entertaining match. Must say that some of the Legends could still be playing now as their technical ability and vision is still prevalent.
This was a spectacle of note enjoyed by both sets of fans and as John Barnes put it “We have always enjoyed fantastic support in South Africa, where Liverpool is as loved as anywhere else in the world. It will be an honour for us to play in front of these passionate fans and show some of the skills that have not only won us many trophies, but millions of friends around the world too.”
The highlight for me took place after the match when John Barnes on his lap of honour stopped to hand a 7 year old girl his shin pads and stood in that corner signing autographs for fans who watched them play. John Barnes portrayed the true meaning of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Author: Salesh Sewnarain
Treasurer LFC Supporters Club Gauteng